Friday, October 24, 2014

Michael Delaney, author of OBI, GERBIL ON THE LOOSE! is now a Balkin Buddy

We'd like to officially welcome author/illustrator Michael Delaney (also known as M.C. Delaney) to the "More Authors" section of the Balkin Buddies list of authors by telling you about one of his books:

Some of Michael's other books include OBI: GERBIL ON A SCHOOL TRIP (Penguin); OBI, GERBIL ON A MISSION! (Penguin) and BIRDBRAIN AMOS (Penguin).  

Please join us in giving Michael a warm welcome.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

James Ransome's MY NAME IS TRUTH receives a starred review in Publishers Weekly

MY NAME IS TRUTH: THE LIFE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH (HarperCollins) by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome received another starred review, this time in Publishers Weekly:

As James Ransome will no doubt be getting a lot of requests for school visits during Black History Month, be sure to book him well in advance. Just contact Balkin Buddies and we’ll be happy to help arrange a visit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

James Ransome's MY NAME IS TRUTH receives starred review in School Library Journal

MY NAME IS TRUTH: THE LIFE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH (HarperCollins) by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome received this starred review in the October 2014 issue of School Library Journal:

This picture book biography tackles the life of former slave and abolitionist Isabella Baumfree, better known as Sojourner Truth. Turner details the life of this pivotal figure, who was born into slavery in the late 18th century in New York, along with 11 siblings, all of whom were sold off. The account is told in first-person narrative, with Truth discussing how her different owners treated her and how she seized freedom for herself when one of them broke his promise to free her. Her journey culminated in her work as a preacher, and many spreads are dedicated to Truth displaying her power, passion, and poise as a speaker, spreading her antislavery message wherever she went. Turner makes effective use of dialect, and the well-crafted text reads like poetry or a monologue ("'Welcome,' they said/had ayone ever said that word to me before?/and showed me a fine wide room with a white bed to sleep in/I never slept in a bed before"). Rich, painterly watercolor illustrations effectively reflect the pain of Truth's past and the lyrical nature of her narrative, while the use of different fonts highlights the most crucial parts of the narrative. Those who are already somewhat familiar with Truth will get the most out of this book, and educators will find the author's note helpful in explaining this historical figure to students. A wonderful addition to collections of African American history that will also work well as a read-aloud.

--Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

To schools interested in having James come to their school to talk to their students, please contact Balkin Buddies and we’ll be happy to help arrange a visit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anna Myers' TUMBLEWEED BABY reviewed in School Library Journal

School Library Journal gives a warm review to TUMBLEWEED BABY (Abrams), by Anna Myers (her first picture book after 19 novels!), and illustrated by Charles Vess:

Anna Myers is available for school visits to K to YA. Contact Balkin Buddies for further information.

Monday, October 20, 2014

School Library Journal review of Neal Shusterman’s UNDIVIDED

You won’t want to miss the final book in Neal Shusterman’s Unwind Dystology series. School Library Journal concludes that UNDIVIDED (Simon and Schuster) is “a wonderful end to a unique and noteworthy series.” Here’s their October 2014 review:

Friday, October 17, 2014

A school email-interviews Dean Pitchford about his book, CAPTAIN NOBODY

A school recently did an email-interview with Dean Pitchford about CAPTAIN NOBODY  (Penguin/Putnam), among other things, and the questions and answers were so interesting, we asked Dean if we could share his responses with our followers. Here below is the interview. We hope you enjoy it.


DEAN: I really liked your students’ comments and would be happy to answer their very interesting questions.

SCHOOL: Where did you get the idea of the brother going into a coma from?

DEAN: I learned, when I was doing the book tour for my first novel, THE BIG ONE-OH, that my young readers had a tremendous capacity for understanding and coping with difficulties in their lives. And, when they get through those hard episodes, they emerge stronger and empowered.

I knew that I wanted to do something to Chris Newman to get him out of the house… so that Newt would have a chance to blossom as a personality. But it wasn’t dramatic enough to have him leave on a trip or go away to college. No!

Putting Chris into a very serious situation… and then studying how Newt deals with that… became important to me. And that’s how I came up with idea for Chris’s coma.

SCHOOL: Will there ever be a sequel to CAPTAIN NOBODY?

DEAN: I haven’t been asked by my publishers to create a sequel to CAPTAIN NOBODY using the same characters. However….!!

I actually began with my first book to create a sort of series that can be read in order. Here’s how:

THE BIG ONE-OH is about a 9-year-old boy and takes place in the month leading up to his 10th birthday.

CAPTAIN NOBODY (as you know) is about 10-year-old Newt Newman and takes place before and after Halloween.

NICKEL BAY NICK is about an 11-year-old boy; it starts on the evening of Christmas Day and takes place over the next twelve days (The Twelve Days of Christmas!)

The characters in my books are meant to grow up… just as my readers do. Nine, ten, eleven years old… celebrating a birthday, Halloween, and Christmas… the three books all follow that pattern.

SCHOOL: What made you become an author?

DEAN: I’ve been writing my whole life. When I was the age of your students, I scribbled stuff on scraps of paper. I started keeping my thoughts and observations in notebooks when I got to high school. I wrote poetry throughout college… which is how I started writing lyrics for songs when I got to New York City. And that lead to my screenwriting, my writing for Broadway, and now… writing novels. So I can’t really pinpoint a moment when I chose to be an author. It sort of chose me. It’s the way I found to make sense of my life, the world around me, and my place in it.

SCHOOL: Is there any chance that Newt’s memory of Darryl Peeps actually hitting Chris was wrong?

DEAN: What a terrific question!!! I wondered when someone would think to ask me this! After all, Newt’s memory comes back to him in a dream… and we all know how unreliable dreams can be.

Of course there’s a chance that Newt mis-remembered the Big Tackle, but this explanation – that it was Darryl Peeps – is as good as any. PLUS it takes the heat off Reggie Ratner, who becomes so depressed about what people THINK is his part in Chris Newman’s injury.

SCHOOL: Were many of the feelings Newt had like feelings that you had?

DEAN: Well, none of the specific incidents ever happened to me (I never climbed a water tower or chased a ferret onto a freeway, for instance), but I experienced – as lots of young people do – what it felt like to be overlooked and ignored. I went to a high school (in Honolulu) that was known for its football team. Because I wasn’t athletic – and everyone around me was – I was pretty invisible in the halls of that school!

And, like Newt, I’m afraid of heights. Not terrified, but afraid. I can climb a tall ladder, for instance, but if I’m in an apartment on a high floor and I’m invited to walk out onto the balcony, I won’t go!!

Thanks again for your and your students’ enthusiastic responses to my work.

Dean Pitchford is available for school visits or Skype chats. If you're interested in booking him, just contact Balkin Buddies.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marilyn Singer's poetry interview on DIY MFA Radio

Marilyn Singer recently did a recorded poetry interview on diyMFA Radio.

In it, Marilyn discusses her background as a poet, gives an overview of what reverso poetry is, explaining how it differs from other forms of poetry, and talks about how she developed it. You'll also get an inside look at how she wrote MIRROR, MIRROR, the first book of reversos.

For new writers, she offers advice on writing poetry and explores what prose writers gain from studying poetry.

We hope you enjoy listening to it.